"Out of all the brothers and sisters I have, I was the child that my mama didn’t pay attention to. It was like that Cinderella story where all the brothers and sisters got to do things while the one child was pushed away and did all the house tasks. I did a lot of cooking for a child my age. At one point, I got injured by a pressure cooker. My mom asked me to check the food and I lifted the top of the cooker and it exploded on me. I had third degree burns on my legs, but no one took me to the hospital. I felt very depressed as a child. I felt like I had to be the grown up –caring for the babysitting and household tasks. My bedroom was in the attic all by myself. One thing after another made me feel like I wasn’t wanted and I kept wondering if I really belonged here.
When I was 6 years old, the state removed me and my older brother from my mom’s home and took us to a foster home. I was used to always being hungry, but my foster family made sure I had regular meals and snacks. They made a huge cake for me and my brother when we arrived and we were so excited we couldn’t stop eating the cakes! Eventually my brother decided he wanted to go back to our mom, but I wanted to stay with my foster parents. Being raised by foster parents was a whole different world. It seemed like if I thought it I got it. I had anything I needed – food, clothes, medicine, love. My foster mom really loved me and taught me a lot. When I did something wrong, she would sit down and help me understand what I did and why it was bad. She would hug me. She could discipline me and love me all at the same time, and because of that I knew that her love was unconditional and very real. They couldn’t have kids, but they loved us like we were their kids. I didn’t know it was possible for a person to have so much love in them to give to strangers like me, but I’m forever grateful that they loved me. When I turned 18, I remember hugging my foster parents goodbye and we both cried. I visited and helped them whenever I could and did anything I could to take care of them.
It's been hard for me to deal with feeling unwanted throughout my life. Even though my foster parents loved me, I’ve struggled to forgive my biological mother. I made a lot of bad choices and have struggled with addictions that I used to cover the pain I felt from her not wanting me. Hope’s community has helped me a lot. Hope has given me hope in a lot of ways – basically taken up from where my foster parents left off. Who would have known that there was a place that could do so much for you and ask for nothing. The only thing they ask of you is to be be honest and have a willingness to change. For those of us who have been out on the streets with no food in our stomachs, no clothes on our back, no home to live in– this place is a place that lets you know that there is a God and without Him none of this would be possible. This is where I should be, and this is where I need to be. I should have been here a long time ago. I want this so bad –I want to succeed so bad.